Fake Fur - Friend or Faux?

As more and more major retailers and luxury fashion houses are saying no to real fur, there is a rise in the faux version. Sold as the more ethical option, and keeping the animal lovers happy - what’s the issue with faux fur?

The issues with real fur are obvious for most, and consumers are pressuring brands to go fur-free. From the inhumane fur farms as shown in PETAs shocking videos, to the environmental impacts that the fur industry have, more and more brands are opting for the fake version. Faux fur has today gone from being a cheap looking, itchy and low-quality option, to a luxury and believable option to the real stuff - so close that both consumers and brands are finding it hard to tell the difference. While most people have a strong opinion regarding fur, and the using of animal for fur, debates can still go hot around the subjects. As the issues of animal welfare is hard to quantify, it is often hard to find completely unbiased facts around the subject.

So is faux fur any better?
The most substantial issue about faux fur is what it is made of. While faux fur is not harming any animals, it in instead made of polyester. As told in our previous post about polyester, the micro-fibres that are released are almost impossible to catch, and the process that goes into creating the plastic fake fur is extremely invasive. The way the fibre is made, the shedding of micro-plastics are bigger than any other polyester garment. As these micro-plastics cannot be filtered away easily, they are ending up in our oceans instead - a 2016 study shows that synthetic jackets released an average of 1,174 milligrams of microfibers when washed. So while no animals were harmed in the making of your faux fur coat, it’s not completely faultless.

Due to this, some designers are even referring to real fur as a more sustainable option - being natural and biodegradable - choosing fur and animal by-products over synthetics because of the environmental impact of the latter.

Others, like luxury house Gucci, who went fur-free from their SS18 collection, are rather looking out for new ways to give their collections the same look as before, but completely fur-free - fake and real. Rather than simply exchanging real fur for fake, they are looking for other ways to be innovative and creative, to create the same look.

What can be done and improved?
As with any sustainability issue in fashion, buy less, buy quality, buy timeless is the mantra and the first step. Whatever road you choose to take, make sure that the garment you buy is bought with the intention of a long life. Make a conscious decision on what route you want to take, and if fur is really needed in your wardrobe - fake or real.

If you do make the decision to buy fake fur, look out for brands like House of Fluff who are making efforts to keep sustainability in mind for each step - choosing recycled polyester, making the collection in New York City to reduce its carbon footprint, and sourcing fabrics from Europe, where regulations around pollution are stricter than in China. Other brands like London-based Shrimps, and Aussie label Unreal Fur, are following the same route, creating pieces made to last for a long time, working as wardrobe staples rather than fast fashion fixes.

The leather industry, who is facing similar ethical issues as the fur industry, is a few steps ahead in innovation, with a variety of bio-fabrication leathers being developed. Despite the efforts in bio-leathers however, using the same methods for fur still has a long way to go. While there is an array of startups working to solve the issue, the material is far more complex, and we might have to wait a few years still to see results.